President Donald Trump huddled with top national security advisors Thursday to weigh his military options in Syria, as Moscow warned against any move that risks triggering a conflict between Russian Federation and the United States.
Britain would work with the USA and France to coordinate an global response, it added.
At stake in Syria is the potential for confrontation, if not outright conflict, between the US and Russian Federation, former Cold War foes whose relations have deteriorated in recent years over Moscow's intervention in Ukraine, its interference in the 2016 USA presidential election and its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
But after being criticized for apparently telegraphing USA intentions, Trump on Thursday attempted to blur the timing of any potential airstrikes on Syria.
"Japan can not make a judgment on whether Assad's government forces really used chemical weapons", a senior Foreign Ministry official said of the latest attack. Inspectors with the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, are due to investigate the incident.
At the House hearing, Democrats grilled Mattis on the wisdom and legality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorization from Congress. Mattis argued it would be justified as an act of self-defense, with 2,000 USA ground troops in Syria; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack "is not yet in the offing".
Formally, the prime minister has the right to go to war without approval from parliament, but a convention has been established in previous conflicts where MPs have a vote either before or shortly after military action begins.
The French president does not need parliamentary permission to launch a military operation.
It came nearly exactly a year after a chemical attack in the northern Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun killed dozens of people.
Asked about the risks of USA military retaliation, Mattis cited two concerns, starting with avoiding civilian casualties.
But the pinpoint strike did not deter Assad and United States officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have since investigated as many as 10 suspected chemical attacks. "We need to know where that's going, what the goal of it is before we take that act".
A separate YouGov survey on Thursday found 61 percent of people think it would be necessary for parliament to vote on military action against Syria, with just 18 percent saying it was not necessary and 21 percent undecided.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday President Donald Trump has yet to decide on whether he will pursue military action in Syria.
The statement made no specific reference to military action.
Syria and Russia have denied using poisonous gas in Douma on April 7, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that Moscow had "irrefutable" evidence that the attack in Douma was a "staged event". France is already involved in the US -led coalition created in 2014 to fight the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
But British involvement in further military intervention is controversial at home, in a country still haunted by its role in the US-led invasion of Iraq.
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